Monday, February 26, 2007

Dem Congress to Spend More on Itself

Roll Call ($) reports that a number of House Committees have submitted their funding requests for 2007 and 2008. The committees on average, seek increases of about 11 percent from the 2006 spending level.

I find this interesting because the House committees have retained the traditional 2/3-1/3 split in funding ratios. That is, under both Republican and now Democratic leadership, the majority gets about two-thirds of all funding and staff. The Democrats have already just about doubled their staff levels - and yet they still need more funds.

The biggest overall budget request so far is for Henry Waxman's Government Reform Committee, which apparently needs about 12 percent more funding to conduct all the investigations it plans:

House committees are proving to be a little more ambitious, at least financially, than their Senate counterparts, according to budget requests submitted to the chambers’ respective administrative panels. With most committees having turned in their requests, House panels are seeking an overall budget boost of 10.7 percent, nearly double the average Senate request of about 5 percent over funding provided during the 109th Congress...

The panel that has requested the most money? That honor goes to Oversight and Government Reform, which is seeking an 11.6 percent increase, to $22.9 million from $20.5 million. Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has made it clear in recent weeks he intends to increase the level of oversight done by the committee.

Per tradition, the Appropriations Committee writes and approves its own budget. Energy and Commerce, Intelligence, Rules, and House Administration had yet to introduce their budget resolutions as of last week.

A new panel that is expected to study climate change is still being formed and also has not introduced a funding resolution...

The only panel not seeking an increase this session is the House Budget Committee, which is requesting about $12 million. But others asked for fairly significant funding boosts.

Armed Services is seeking $15.5 million, a 20.6 percent increase from the previous session’s $12.8 million. The Homeland Security Committee, meanwhile, requested $16.5 million, a 17.9 percent boost from $14 million two years ago.

But a Homeland Security aide said those numbers are a bit misleading, as the committee is asking for about a 3 percent increase in 2007 from 2006, to $8.1 million from $7.9 million.

That is because in 2005, when the 109th session committee budgets were approved, Homeland Security had just become a permanent panel and required a bit more funding...

We'll see if these requests get pared down during consideration - but considering the dramatic increase that the new Democratic Committee chairs have already seen, it's stunning to me that they need so much more.

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